House Bill 317 will Help Alleviate Gift Card Scams

Posted on 05/07/24

AARP Delaware is supporting House Bill 317, relating to gift card scams, with Rep. Larry Lambert as the bill sponsor. The bill will be heard in committee on May 8 at 4 pm. HB 317 requires retailers selling third-party gift cards to post signage alerting customers to protect themselves from gift card scams and telling them how to report it. The bill is aligned with AARP’s efforts to prevent fraud through its Fraud Watch Network.

 Con artists have latched on to gift cards as a convenient, untraceable form of payment in their scams. Gift card scams take several forms. One fraudulent tactic is when scammers tamper with gift cards and then return them to the sales rack. Consumers should examine gift cards for torn casing, or scratches and dents.

 Many scammers are now impersonating law enforcement, the IRS or utility companies. They call unsuspecting consumers and tell them to pay a bill immediately with a gift card or they will face fines or even jail time.

 Milton resident Linda Wells was the victim of an impersonation scam that cost her $8,000. At age 70, she doesn’t have much time to recoup that money out of her savings. “The call came in the middle of the night. They told me they were from my bank. The knew information about my account so I thought it was legitimate,” she said. “The scammers told me that my account had been hacked and I had to move the money to protect it from the hackers.”

 Wells was instructed to purchase Home Depot gift cards and send pictures of the back of the card to the caller so they could move her money to a safer place. Scammers immediately used the cards and her money was gone.

 Consumer awareness is the best protection to help people hold on to their hard-earned money. Last year, 49,000 Americans reported a gift card or reload card scam with losses of $217 million. That number is actually down from just two years ago. HB 317 will help to continue the downward trend among consumers by increasing awareness of gift card scams.

Gift cards

Businesses can build customer loyalty and show more consumer confidence by posting this easy signage at their gift card kiosks or at check-out registers.

 HB 317 requires stores selling third-party gift cards to post a notice alerting customers to protect themselves from gift card scams and telling them how to report it. AARP Delaware fully supports the bill because it gives Delawareans more financial resilience. If you can spot a scam, you can stop a scam.

This story is provided by AARP Delaware. Visit the AARP Delaware page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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